How to do a set up for baby photography
~ by Amrita Samant
PUBLISH DATE: June 1, 2020
A professional Newborn & Maternity photographer, Amrita Samant has been capturing the special moments of a baby and their family for a long time. Since we all are living in an era of documenting every little moment, every new parent wants to document their babies to make the moment as real as possible yet also be in line with the current decade-long trend of using props and costumes.
A Sony artisan, she is an absolute natural when it comes to portraying children in their element. Her versatility is evident from doing portraits to documenting the lives of families with realism. Pursuing her passion for creating memories of tiny adults, she started her business “Mommy shots” in 2013.
Sony gear: Amrita’s best friend
Amrita confides that she uses our gear for capturing pictures of a child as it helps her to complete the sessions quickly. This is because children don’t have the threshold to stay quiet or sit idle for as long as adults. Apart from this, their quick movements are captured without any vibration. .
She appreciates the Eye-AF tracking feature of our cameras which helps her to focus and capture swift action-based shots. With Toddlers, she shared that she has to run alongside them with her extremely light-weight gear capturing them on the go, getting the most vibrant and expressive images from them. .
She shared that for all her baby photography sessions, she prefers to use the Sony Alpha 7R III camera, the Sony FE 85mm F1.4 lens , Sony Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 , Sony FE 24mm F1.4GM lens and the Sony FE 90 mm F2.8 Macro G OSS lens. .
Guide on baby photography
Here is a detailed guide by Amrita Samant on how to set up props for babies according to their age. She has shed light on the approach and the types of props budding photographers must use for each group .
Type of props:
While capturing pictures of new-borns, she always makes sure to handle them with utmost care. She shared that she clicks pictures of newborn babies between the period of 5 to 15 days from the time a baby is born. She also pointed out that one must avoid using props or copying poses from the internet without required safety certification and practice. The newborns must be placed in props that are safe, sturdy and with no sharp edges. Photographers must use a well-cushioned basket/prop to place their tiny subjects. Since the strength of their neck and back is not strong enough, the babies must be given strong and comfortable head and neck support. With newborns, Amrita’s style is quite muted. She likes playing with earthy colours, earthy props such as twig-based wreaths and floral looks. She believes that since we all are born amidst nature; she wants her images to echo this sentiment.
Expertise level: medium
Babies in this age group are capable of sitting up, but with the help of back support. So usually, any set up done here is done with them in a basket that gives them ample back support. Remember, the support needs to be up to their upper backs at least, so they are well cushioned and supported. The other type of setups photographers can safely follow are top shots of babies lying on their back as this is something they are still doing like most infants. While doing this, the photographers must ensure that they wear their camera straps on, to avoid any trouble with the cameras falling out of their palms. At this age, Amrita shared that she prefers to keep the setups minimal- to avoid over-powering the tiny baby with props. .
Props that baby photographers can use include buckets, baskets, fur blankets etc. this is due to the fact that the grip strength of a baby at this age is really strong. The type of setups ranges from using things they can get a grip on, such alphabets, or balloons for decor, or cute themed setups such as a harry potter set up or playing with costumes. Babies also tend to lie on their backs and lift their toes to their mouth a lot. When planning a setup, she asks parents to not make the baby wear skirts, dresses or anything where the diaper is going to be shown. Sticking to onesies, shirts and pants are nicer in such circumstances. .
Expertise level: Low to Medium:
Babies between the age of 7 to 12 months are capable of sitting upright independently. Understanding this aspect, photographers can get a lot more creative with props around them, such as helium balloons, message boards. They can also use theme-based setups, such as mini-castles, tee-pees, paper pom-poms. .
As a baby photographer, Amrita realised that she got creative with babies since these tiny adults can independently sit there representing these themes in matching outfits. She also pointed out that one must not be surprised when these curious ones bring down the set up completely. The babies tend to explore every new/shiny item around them. She also shared that at this age, it is adorable to do cake smashes or even a fruit-smash. Every baby has a different reaction and a range of emotions displayed at this stage. Even putting them in a tub of water to splash around can give a photographer a range of fun emotions. The key here to achieve successful setups and happy babies is to give the babies what they most enjoy. Forcing a baby into a set up they aren’t comfortable or familiar with, works against the idea of a fun photo session. .
Expertise level: Low to Medium
To capture the babies above the age of one, she tends to follow a different approach. At this age, the babies have learned to walk and run and hence dislike being asked to sit in one place for too long. She shared that shooting at this stage is more or less a cardio session given their energy levels. In this situation, using props that require them to stay in one place is never a good idea. This is a stage where according to Amrita, the photographer must introduce very interactive props such as bubbles, role-play based activities such as cooking or a chef-set up or anything that has them using their hands. With that in mind, the photographers must come up with activity ideas that will involve them to ‘do’ something. One should ensure to never go over the top with the costumes these little kids will wear since they have a strong opinion on whether they are comfortable in a certain costume or not and will not comply if they are uncomfortable. .
In the past decade, there has been a shift in the thought process of new parents. They now intend to collect and capture every step of their baby’s journey. Following which, she has shared some tips for photography enthusiasts who wish to learn and excel in baby photography 1. One must try to use minimal props 2. One must stick to a complementary colour palette across theme-based prop setups 3. One must always make sure to keep the baby comfortable. Without their comfort, you are not going to succeed in getting a shot. 4. Safety is of utmost priority. Use safe, sturdy, well-supported props 5. Always have a spotter with baby shoots. A spotter’s job is to keep an eye on the baby all times when using props to ensure they are safe and are at no-risk. .
These are some of the tips which Amrita follows during her fun and adorable photo sessions. We hope that as budding photographers you too keep these in mind when you venture into clicking pictures of a baby or a small child. .
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Happy Clicking! .